The race to the Osun State Government House is fully on. JOSHUA DADA in this report takes a look at the gladiators and their preparations towards the poll.
As the governorship election draws near in Osun State, more candidates and aspirants have continued to emerge for the contest regarded in many quarters as a major determinant with the capacity to alter the political power balance in the South-West part of the country.
Before now, the two prominent aspirants who have emerged as candidates of their various political parties following the conduct of the mandatory primaries are the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Senator Christopher Iyiola Omisore of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
First to emerge was Senator Omisore, the candidate of PDP following a primary conducted by the party and supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on 5th April, 2014.
That of the APC which produced Governor Aregbesola was ratified on 12th April, 2014 following the ward congress/ primary that gave the incumbent governor100% votes.
Expectedly, the Labour Party, another vibrant political party in the state is warming up for its own primary even as the emergence of a grassroots politician and former secretary to the state government, Alhaji Fatai Akinade Akinbade as an aspirant from the party has made the party more relevant in Osun politics.
Also, though not yet confirmed through a primary, the appearance of Senator Sunday Fajimi as Alliance for Democracy (AD) candidate has brought to the fore, the relevance of the party that made the current Interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Adebisi Akande governor of the state between 1999 and 2003.
The Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) lost the immediate past Head of Service in the State, Mr Segun Akinwusi to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) following the failure of INEC to register the party as at that time.
He had initially opted for UPN because of his belief in the late sage’s (Chief Obafemi Awolowo) ideology for which the party stands. He however switched to the SDP which he claimed to be the reincarnation of the party on which platform Chief MKO Abiola who died in the process of fighting for the actualization of his election won a popular mandate in 1993.
Now that INEC has registered UPN, a party that shares the ideology and name of the great sage, it is expected that the ex-HoS will now make a choice whether to stick to Abiola or return to Awolowo’s fold.
Though some green horns in politics are also touted to be flying the flags of other less visible political parties, their successes are not near the catch gambit unless the miraculous circumstances that produced Late Michael Otedola as the Governor of Lagos State rear their heads in Osun State. Indeed, such are far away from the corridors of power.
It is obvious that the battle is likely to be between the PDP and the APC, the parties that have tasted the Bola Ige Governors office, Abere, Osogbo from 2003 to date.
As a matter of fact, if what the APC claimed, when the battle over the PDP flag bearer among aspirants is anything to go by, the party should be sleeping by now. This is because the party had boasted that should Omisore emerge as PDP candidate, it (APC) will go to sleep.
But now that Omisore has emerged, the APC cannot go to sleep because the former Chairman of Appropriation in the upper chamber of the National Assembly is a factor anybody cannot ignore in the politics of Osun State. This is by virtue of his contribution to what Osun State is today as a Deputy Governor and a Senator of the Federal Republic.
The APC based their decision to go to sleep on their belief that the people have identified Senator Omisore with the toga of violence put on him by his political adversaries.
While Omisore has been accusing the ruling APC of planning violence following alleged utterances of the party’s flag bearer, he has consistently described Aregbesola’s administration as oppressive and promised to change most of the transformation policies of the government to meet the need of the people.
But the APC is rest assured that with the positive impact of the Aregbesola’s administration on the people, the governor deserved a second term in office.
Admittedly, Aregbesola has touched the lives of every family in Osun State with his programmes and projects that have qualified him for awards nationally and internationally. This is to the extent that the Interim National Chairman of his party said recently at a public forum that the election of Aregbesola is a foregone issue because the people will vote massively for him.
Since no good thing comes without a prize, the PDP is ready to use into advantage those areas where changes have brought hardship to individuals and corporate bodies to tackle Governor Aregbesola at the poll.
Another underrated party is the Labour Party (LP) because it has never been at the corridor of power in the state. But with the emergence of Alhaji Akinbade who is known to have touched lives of individuals.
He is known to have practiced his politics within the confine of the state as commissioner in various ministries during the military era, chairman of PDP under whom Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola became governor and the secretary to the state government for over seven years. The LP, with Akinbade as candidate, cannot also be wished away as a factor in Osun politics.
Akinbade has told other parties that he stands a better chance of winning the election because he is well-known by the people unlike his opponents that are either rooted in Lagos or Abuja.
He claimed that by virtue of his accessibility to the people, he knows where the shoes pinch more than any other candidate adding that he can as well provide solution to their problems.
The technocrat among them, Elder Segun Akinwusi has served the state in various capacities until he got to the pick of his career as Head of Service.
By virtue of his knowledge of the operational structure of the state, while tackling the administration of Aregbesola, he has presented himself as one that has been the brain behind the successes of successive governments in the state. He insists that he is better positioned to tackle headlong the problem of the people and take them to the promise land.
Other aspirants are also lending their voices probably to be noticed, heard, bargaining factor or seriously committed to emerge as the governor of Osun State miraculously.
In all these, one cannot but think about the potency and quality both Chief Akande and erstwhile national secretary of the PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola might bring to bear on the race.
Both are former governors; once adversaries but now seemingly aligning to forge front with no thanks to the internal national crises that have rocked the PDP, forcing some governors, other leaders, including Oyinlola to make a forced exit.
Only recently, during the Easter period precisely, Governor Aregbesola paid an understandably strategic visit to Oyinlola. Indeed, this development, laced with possible balancing factors, has led to a hushed curiousity on the part of political watchers.
The ball is in the court of the electorates of Osun State to decide who controls the affairs of the State from November, 2014 through the August 9 governorship election in the State of the virtuous.